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Community combats addiction

OBSERVER Photos by J.M. Lesinski MHA Certified Peer Specialist Justin Jimenez, pictured seated at left, spoke to the OBSERVER about programs and services offered by the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County at the community event Tuesday evening.

An evening of hope and opportunity filled the air at the Combat Addiction Dunkirk community meeting Tuesday, as numerous sources of recovery and addiction support re-introduced themselves to the community in a large tent, across the street from Grace Lutheran Church.

Those in attendance learned about prevention of addiction, treatment options available to them and recovery services. Residents were also encouraged to offer ideas and feedback about their community as well.

One of the key groups involved in the event, the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA) provided information on support groups available, as well as other services, including soon to be provided peer-based recovery services in Dunkirk.

“Our goal here is to help people with addiction and recovering from trauma,” said MHA Certified Peer Specialist Justin Jimenez. “We’ve had a lot of people come through and we’ve had lots of success. We’re up 50% in participation and we see that people really do want to talk and be heard.”

The MHA offers services including recovery coaching, substance abuse therapy, health & human services, veterans benefits and educational/vocational programs as well. “One of my primary goals is to help people with employment,” said Jimenez of his specific duties at MHA. “I help people prepare for interviews, even give them rides to and from, anything that will help someone who truly wants to better themself.”

OBSERVER Photos by J.M. Lesinski Pictured, the crowd beneath the tent at the Combat Addiction Dunkirk community meeting Tuesday, where community members were informed of treatment and recovery options available to anyone they know who is in need of these services.

More than 30 groups meet weekly at MHA, providing a variety of services and support. Peer groups available to the public aren’t strictly for addiction or recovery as well. There are a number of groups available at the MHA, including: alternatives to suicide, anger management, mental health 101, mom tribe, PTSD support, resume workshops and STQP (Southern Tier Queer Peers).

“We have a very successful community base,” Jimenez also commented. “We try very hard to get the community involved and help people feel like they belong. Our policy is, if anyone has an idea, we want to listen. We want people to speak up and get more involved.”

UPMC Chautauqua WCA was on scene as well, and spoke about their outpatient chemical dependency and mental health programs. The program offers a team approach, a personalized treatment plan, individual, group, and family counseling options, Spanish language programming and relapse prevention.

“The Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, supported by a federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant, has collaborated with prevention, treatment and recovery providers to build upon existing services and enhance coordination between agencies in the county,” said PR Coordinator for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene Ann Rosenthal of the event.

For anyone seeking more information on MHA programs, visit www.mhachautauqua.org.

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